By: Fr. John Jasica


This past week we began our Lenten journey with beautiful celebrations of Ash Wednesday.  There were very large crowds at our Masses that day in addition to our school celebrations.  We marked our foreheads with ashes publicly stating our need for Christ and the call for each of us to repent and believe in the Good News.  This is a powerful and wonderful season that puts us back on course.

Why do I think it is joyful?  Like the warmer weather and increased sunshine, knowing that spring is near, Lent is a time for us to dust away, push back and let go of everything that takes us away from God and others.  This doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it is joyful because it allows us to open our hearts more to the love of Jesus who compels us to share our light with others.  Lent challenges us to be better, do more and focus on what is most important.  Lent is a joyful season of change.


Last weekend I began a new three homily message series called “A FLASH OF NEW HOPE: Through the Desert God Leads Us to Freedom.”  I took this from the 2024 Lenten Message by Pope Francis who calls us to embrace the call of conversion in our lives this Lent that will spark a new flash of hope that will set us in a new direction together.  The pope wrote, “To the extent that this Lent becomes a time of conversion, an anxious humanity will notice a burst of creativity, a flash of new hope.”  I believe that this is true and we can do this if we can open our hearts and desire God’s love in our lives.  The Lord will always lead us to new life in new ways. 


In the first homily of the series, I reflected on the gospel of the man with leprosy who begs Jesus to heal him.  Jesus wants to heal us and bring us new hope and new life.  Will we let Him?

I guess the first thing that we have to realize is that we need help and that we really need Jesus.  Christ is the only one that can truly heal us and set us free.  Do we realize that we need healing, forgiveness and freedom?  There are so many things that hold us back and divide us from God and one another.

Pope Francis stated in his Lenten Message that “The call to freedom is a demanding one.  It is not answered straightaway; it has to mature…today too, God’s people can cling to an oppressive bondage that it is called to leave behind.”  Conversion takes time in the desert of our 40 days of Lent but also each and every day seeking God’s grace and trying to be a faithful disciple.  While we seek healing and grace, we also have to let go of things that hold us back.  This includes resentment, anger, frustration, bitterness and a lack of forgiveness of others.  All of these things weighs us down and wears us out.  Wisdom takes time and we must be patient.


This weekend I am preaching the second homily in this series focused on God’s great covenant of love that he offers each of us.  God is always faithful to His covenant and Lent helps us respond in the same way.  God will walk with us, guiding us each step of the way and for our part, we need to seek Him out in everything we do.  This Lenten season challenges us to open our lives fully to God’s covenant of love that frees us.

In order for us to truly experience conversion and the covenant, we must journey into the desert so that we can turn down the noise of this world and turn up the voice of the Lord who calls us to love, forgive and serve.  This is not always easy.  Our traditional Lenten practices of prayer, discipline and service helps strengthen us in truly encountering the eternal and unconditional love of our Heavenly Father.  Jesus showed us the way through His passion, death and resurrection.

Pope Francis writes in his 2024 Lenten Message, “We become attached to money, certain projects, ideas or goals, to our position, to a tradition, even to certain individuals.  Instead of making us move forward, they paralyze us.”  What consumes our time, effort and resources?  What paralyzes us from living our faith each day?  These are the things that we must have courage to surrender in order to be set free.


For us to truly experience conversion, we need to have a powerful Lent.  This means that we need to take a real serious look at what needs to change and what we need to let go in addition to what we need to embrace not just over these 40 days, but in our regular day to day life.

Take advantage of the many opportunities that are being offered in our family of parishes this Lent.  Take time to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and seek to deepen your friendship with Christ in prayer and service to those in need.  Jesus never disappoints us when we choose to follow Him.